Wrath From Above
CoC chats with Mayhemic Destructor of Endstille
by: Jackie Smit
Given their German moniker, the stock Second World War imagery that's been splattered across their every release since they started in 2000, and the title of their latest opus (_Endstilles Reich_), there's little guessing which question tends to pop up most frequently when in conversation with any member of Endstille. So when I bring it up during my chat with their drummer, the colourfully dubbed Mayhemic Destructor, his response is disarmingly affable:

"Yeah, we get that one a lot", he laughs wryly when asked of the band's purported NSBM credentials, "but I'm glad people are interested in knowing this. I like that we are able to make people think."

Not that you'd immediately describe _Endstilles Reich_ as music for the budding philosopher, mind you. The fourth in the German black metal collective's discography, it's instantly reminiscent of classics like _Battles in the North_ and _Under the Sign of Hell_, by virtue of its pure, undiluted savagery. Now finally Regain Records are going to bring Endstille's misanthropic message to a larger audience. Mayhemic explains how this relationship came about:

MD: We were on our first big tour, opening for Dark Funeral, and playing in all of these places we'd never played at before, we saw that everyone outside of Germany has a lot of difficulty getting hold of any of our music. Twilight [Endstille's previous record label] actually has a worldwide distribution network, but it doesn't function properly. So you could basically find our music in Germany and Austria, but not in France or Spain or Switzerland, and what that led to was us making the decision last year in September to parts ways with them. We got a couple of very interesting offers after that; some of them from good labels, but in the end we decided to go with Regain, because they have a lot of good death and black metal bands on their roster already. Besides that, they're only about three hours away from where we all live, so if they don't do a good job for us we can drive up there and mess them up. <laughs>

CoC: _Endstilles Reich_ had actually been completed before you signed with anyone; did that put the band in a position to negotiate a lot more?

MD: No, none of the labels actually knew about the album. They all knew what we had done in the past, and they knew that we are probably one of the biggest bands in the black metal scene in Germany, and that's what got them interested. That said, we had finished up the album in February, and were actually in the mixing stages while we were in the middle of getting out of the Twilight deal, so they kept asking for the album and we kept having to try and delay things.

CoC: So as far as the new record is concerned, it is far heavier and more aggressive than anything you had done on _Navigator_ or _Dominanz_. Was this just down to natural progression, or did you collectively decide that you wanted to focus on those areas more actively?

MD: Well, as I think a lot of bands do, we all listen to our older material from time to time, and naturally there will always be things that you want to change. On the last record for example, I wasn't happy with the way that the drums or the guitars sounded; so when we went to the studio this time round, that was something that we wanted to do differently. But it was also a conscious decision when we did _Endstilles Reich_ that we wanted to make a more dynamic record, one that was both heavier and more aggressive and one that was more atmospheric. So that's what we wanted, and our producer thankfully understood where we were coming from as well. We wanted an album that sounded organic. I wanted my drums to sound like they do when I play them in the studio, and I don't really care if you can't always hear every exact double-bass beat or whatever. I can't stand the triggered and digital sounds that bands use these days. Too many bands record their music through computers these days, and it might mean that you can work faster that way, but that's not what we want. Our band is very influenced by the old-school bands from the Eighties, and that's the sound we're after.

CoC: You mention that and one of the first comparisons that spring to mind for me when I listen to your new record is Immortal's _Battles in the North_. For the benefit of those who haven't heard you yet, what records would you use as a point of reference to both describe the new material? What inspired you in the making of _Endstilles Reich_?

MD: We were definitely heavily influenced by a lot of older Gorgoroth stuff, and I think when you listen to the music you can hear some references to Celtic Frost, Voivod and Sodom as well. A lot of people actually say that we sound like Marduk, but I don't agree with that at all. Who's Marduk? <laughs> I don't think that I have heard a band do something that sounds too similar to what we do, but then I also don't keep up to date with too much of the newer black metal.

CoC: It's interesting that you'd say that, because the experience I've had speaking to a lot of black metal bands recently -- your countrymen in Sonic Reign is a perfect example of this -- is that there's a distinct move away from being associated with the black metal scene as well as with traditional black metal lyrics.

MD: Absolutely. I think here in Germany there's a very big black metal scene and a big underground movement. The problem is that the definition of underground over here and in a lot of other countries these days seems to be: "I have a keyboard and I can play three riffs on a guitar, my friend can scream, and so we're playing in a black metal band." As a result, there's so much shit in the scene and so much scum that a lot of bands like Sonic Reign, Secrets of the Moon and ourselves don't want to belong to that whatsoever. We come from the underground, but we want no part of that side of it, if that makes sense.

CoC: As far as the German black metal scene is concerned then, who do you regard as being kindred spirits?

MD: We have some very good bands here. Secrets of the Moon are very good, although they play a different style of black metal to what we do. Megata from Hamburg are very good. We did a split with Graupel, and they're a great band. So there are a fair few.

CoC: What are your views on the NSBM scene, and how do you respond to the accusations that Endstille have right wing leanings?

MD: I know that there are a lot of bands claiming to just play black metal at the moment, and if you go to their websites you're about five clicks away from the biggest online Nazi network in the world. So there's a fair bit of this stuff going around at the moment, and because of some of the images we use in our artwork, we've been connected with that on a few occasions. But what I will say is that you will never see a swastika or an SS insignia or anything like that on any of our album covers or merchandise. You may see a tank or a plane or a machine gun, but that's just history, and it's history that inspires us. We use that imagery to provoke thought and discussion. We're against anything remotely related to Nazism. When we're playing, we want to create the atmosphere of war. Our new album, _Endstilles Reich_, has a photo of a church taken in 1946, and the meaning behind it has nothing to do with the Third Reich. What "reich" means in this context is "home" or "place". Our singer wrote the lyrics to the title track and it's about suicide. As far as the bands in the NSBM scene are concerned, if anyone is in any way connected to Nazism or fascism, I have no interest in hearing them. I don't want to support them in any way whatsoever. I want nothing to do with it.

CoC: Your next couple of months will see you on the road with Dark Funeral, touring through Europe. Any plans in place yet after that?

MD: No, nothing yet. We hope to go back on tour in the first part of 2008, possibly doing a small headlining tour. We will definitely play some festivals in summer. We've also already started writing new songs and we've got four completed already, so the plan is that we'll head to the studio in the autumn and possibly have the next album out by the end of next year.

CoC: Thanks very much for your time. I'm definitely looking forward to checking you guys out in London. Is there anything you want to say in conclusion?

MD: <laughs> No. I think that I've said everything I need to say, and if someone wants to know more they can come to one of our concerts.

(article submitted 4/11/2007)

8/22/2008 A Erickson 7 Endstille - Dominanz
11/4/2007 J Smit 8 Endstille - Endstilles Reich
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